It was a stunning late summer day as I walked down to Halifax Minster.
Maybe a little nervous and apprehensive but mainly excited that this was happening. This was the first time a service to celebrate recovery had been held in Halifax so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. People seemed keen and this gave me the hope there may be a decent turnout.
The choir had set off down before me and they were in their seats and limbering up by the time I arrived. A couple of sound checks later and they seemed ready for the performance. It must have been a little nervy for them as there was still a while before the service started. It didn’t seem like two minutes later when the Deputy Mayor arrived. I introduced myself and explained what the service was about and then I showed him and his consort to their seats. It was pretty much time for the service to start and as I had been distracted I hadn’t noticed how much the church had filled up. I felt a few butterflies now as I knew I would have to speak in front of everybody before too long. I didn’t want to look behind me and have a proper look at how many had come but I had a fair idea.
Rev Jonathan Bish started the service with a brief introduction and before I knew it the choir were singing their first song and people were filing up to place candles on the altar in memory of those who hadn’t made it. It was a very moving moment as I saw some who had lost close friends and relatives to addiction. Guy gave a wonderful reading of The Beatitudes from The Sermon on The Mount and Stuart Forshaw talked for a while about recovery. Stuart touched on the negative side of addiction but on the whole it was a positive message which fitted with the idea of celebrating recovery.
We had asked members of the recovery community in Calderdale to vote for those that they thought had given to or inspired others. Although the response was quite muted there were enough nominations and votes to fill the categories. The winners were Frank Dunn and Sue McDonald for giving back, Cath Walsh and Mark Cohen for volunteering, Steph Winter and Bob Tidswell for inspiring others and Darryl O Connor for outstanding contribution. It was fantastic to see people’s efforts rewarded and most had brought family to the service. It was a very emotional part of the service and to me it is what recovery is all about; seeing fractured families mended and people thriving by doing purposeful and selfless things. For me this is the key to recovery, helping others and being kind.
Jonathan Bish gave a sermon that was in keeping with the day and that showed an understanding of addiction. The choir performed a couple more songs and sang with a heart that was fitting of the surroundings and occasion. There were hymns either end of the service and the Vicar closed with a few words on the service. All in all it was a moving and memorable afternoon – especially the tea and cake afterwards back at Basement House.
The Minster is a fantastic building and the fact that it didn’t look empty is a testament to how many attended. It will stay in my mind for the number of people who have got their lives back because of recovery; those in recovery, their children, their parents, their friends, their communities. It was also great to see people from different elements of Calderdale services; Calderdale in Recovery, DISC, The Basement Recovery Project, Calderdale Recovery Steps and Happy Days were all represented. Forgive me if I missed anyone out. This was the first but I hope we can make it an annual event and that next year we have even more there to celebrate recovery and recognise people’s efforts.
Article featured in RecoveryTimes issue 9